Affordable Accommodation 4 Students Association Limited (AA4S), previously known as Cass and Claredale Halls of Residence Association Limited, runs two buildings in the East End of London that provide term-time accommodation for students who are studying in London and to tourists and interns during the summer.
With premises in Hackney and Bethnal Green, the business manages close to 400 beds across both sites, plus the additional cooking, communal and washing facilities their residents need to live comfortably while they’re studying. As you can imagine, AA4S regularly needs help cleaning and maintaining these areas – and this is where TWO’s team gladly steps in, at various intervals throughout the year.
AA4S is one of our longest-standing clients. We sat down with Hall Manager, John Edwards, to discuss the special working relationship between his company and TWO Services, and why he’s stuck with our cleaning team for the best part of three decades.
Where it all started
It’s been more than 25 years since AA4S initially approached TWO, so it’s tricky to know exactly how our working relationship started! But John remembers an urgent requirement for a team that had the experience and the capabilities to make his life easier – and one that would be willing to help him take his venture to the next level.
“At that point, the building we were operating was tired and outdated, and we knew we needed to do better for the people who were staying with us,” he explains. “We had used a few cleaning companies in the past but hadn’t been happy with the results.
“We used TWO for a couple of years, and overall we were impressed with their work. However, we wanted to take the contract out to tender to see what else was out there. I think we were guilty of trying to chase the cheapest possible deal at the time – but this backfired when the other companies we worked with became complacent and started delivering work that was under par. So, we contacted TWO again to pick up where we left off, and we haven’t looked back since.”
Delivering fast-paced cleaning solutions to address unique challenges
John’s business is seasonal. He calls upon TWO Services to handle the fast turnaround of rooms that happens every summer, when the previous year’s students are ready to leave, and the accommodation is temporarily repurposed into summer accommodation.
“We rely on TWO to manage every move-out, which always needs to happen during one weekend in the middle of June,” he says.
“This is an incredibly daunting job because the team needs to clean every single bedroom, bathroom, toilet, kitchen, and communal facility to a high standard in a short timeframe. As you can imagine, some rooms are left in good or OK condition, while others aren’t particularly well looked after by our residents and need a lot more attention.
“The challenge TWO faces is being able to get all these areas back up to scratch, regardless of the state they’ve been left in. No two years are the same. We have had instances when the summer cleans have been more demanding and unpredictable, and we’ve had to run a little over time. But we know that TWO will always go out of their way to help us achieve our targets, as they have proven time and time again.”
“We can say with confidence that TWO’s staff go above and beyond to ensure we’re happy with their cleans,” John says. “As well as ensuring all our rooms, surfaces and appliances are sparkling, they help us prepare our flats for our new tenants by handling the small but important jobs, such as moving mattresses or cleaning up our mops and buckets. It’s these finer details that make it so much easier for us to maintain our accommodation all year round.
Our cleaners are also brought back to service AA4S’s properties later in the year in September, when they usually spend between four and five days carrying out a deep clean onsite, ready for the new student intake.
“TWO sends between 30 and 40 of its team members to handle the job. We do of course supervise the cleans wherever we can, but ultimately, we have reached a point in our working relationship where we can trust TWO’s workers to get things done to a great standard.
“I will always catch up with TWO around two to three weeks after the clean to touch base, review the work, and see if there are any learnings we can bring into next year. We work through any concerns together, and I particularly appreciate the flexible and collaborative approach that’s consistently demonstrated by Barry and the rest of the management team.”
John’s final thoughts:
We think these final words from John sum up our time with AA4S nicely:
“We have an excellent working relationship with TWO which spans some 25 years.
“TWO are always willing to help us with our requirements. We ask them to work to astonishingly tight deadlines very few cleaning companies could ever meet.
“Their staff work extremely hard and are so friendly. Even in the midst of a deep clean, they have time to say hello and greet you with a smile. Many of them return every year and it’s a nice touch to see the same people on a regular basis.
“We value our continued working relationship with TWO.”
A few words from Barry, our Managing Director:
“When we first started working with John and AA4S, I was a cleaner myself. I remember cleaning their premises on many weekends, back when my father, Alan, was running the business. So, I have built up my relationship with John and the business over many years and have become the main point of contact for the contract.
“I personally have a great relationship with John, and I know the team does, too. We used to get together socially and the odd evening at Romford Dogs. Now, we just meet up for lunch or go out for a meal and a few drinks. Just before Christmas, we met up for a pub quiz in London. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with John and, of course, work with him closely to find new ways to solve AA4S’s unique cleaning challenges.”